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Deal Nears On COVID Relief After Senators Clear Major Hurdle

Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., seen here on Capitol Hill in May, had proposed curbing the Federal Reserve's ability to offer emergency loans.
Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., seen here on Capitol Hill in May, had proposed curbing the Federal Reserve's ability to offer emergency loans.

Lawmakers have cleared a major obstacle in their path to passing a nearly $1 trillion relief package as the clock ticked down on a two-day stop-gap spending bill Congress approved Friday to try to enable lawmakers to finish negotiations.

The latest standoff over a package that both parties say is crucial for the American people had centered on a GOP-backed provision led by Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey that would curb the ability of the Federal Reserve to provide certain emergency loans.

But lawmakers apparently reached a compromise on that issue.

According to a senior Democratic aide, "compromise language" was being finalized late Saturday evening after hours of talks between Toomey and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

The aide added: "A final agreement on an emergency relief package is significantly closer."

As he was leaving his office late Saturday night, Schumer, D-N.Y., forecasted a vote would take place in both chambers on Sunday.

"If things continue on this path and nothing gets in the way, we'll be able to vote tomorrow," he said.

Both Schumer and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., had vowed to stay through the Christmas holiday if need be in order to get a relief package passed.

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